Arsenic is a metalloid whose
compounds (species) exhibit significantly different levels of
toxicity, e.g. inorganic arsenic is classified as a class 1
carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer
whereas organoarsenicals in foodstuffs are thought to be less
Humans can be exposed to arsenic
through their diet, the environment and from occupational
Occupational exposure to inorganic
arsenic may occur in several industries: refining or smelting of
metal ores, microelectronics, pesticide manufacture or application,
semiconductor manufacturing, glass production, wood preservation,
joinery, battery manufacturing, and working in power plants that
burn arsenic-rich coal. It is also possible that workers in
waste management and landfill sites may be exposed to arsenic.
HSL offers biological monitoring
for five arsenic species in a urine sample. These five
species allow both dietary and occupational exposure to be
assessed. Total arsenic analysis cannot differentiate between
non-toxic dietary arsenic and the toxic inorganic arsenic.
The major route of excretion for
arsenic in the body is by urine and following an exposure most
arsenic is excreted within 48 hours. Samples should be
taken post-shift towards the end of the working week.
Sampling should reflect normal working practice.
HSL scientists will help interpret
results from samples that we have analysed where required. HSL have
also established background levels of each of the five arsenic
species in unexposed people.
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